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Saturday, May 13, 2017

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I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me!

We are all creatures. One of our creaturely traits is that we instinctually and powerfully resist death. If it were up to us in our natural selves we would never darken the opening of a grave. But if we thumb through the scriptures it becomes pretty obvious what awaits us. In Genesis, Enoch walked with God and was no more. In 2 Kings, Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind after a chariot of fire and horses ran a pick-up for him. So, perhaps at least two people eluded a normal death in scripture. Perhaps.
The number of folks who tasted death, were resuscitated and then experienced death again are abundantly more--the widow of Zarapheth's son, the widow of Nain's son, Eutychus, a dead man who touched Elisha's bones, Lazarus, many who came back from the grave after Jesus' resurrection according to Matthew's gospel, etc. So, speaking from a mathematical standpoint, our average chance of experiencing a death exceeds one death per person.

All this is simply to say, chances are pretty good we are all going to die. I am often challenged and encouraged by a quote I see hanging at our church: "We only die once. We might as well die for Christ."

God, whether we live or whether we die we are yours. Help us face all that comes our way, and particularly our deaths, with the faith in the one who will empty every tomb upon his return. Amen.

Karl Hester, '01
Pastor, Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran, Salem, Ore.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.